Day 1: Hanoi. Our cycling tours start in Hanoi on Saturdays. We will make arrangements for you to be transferred from Hanoi Airport to your hotel on arrival. The tour ends in Vientiane on the morning of Friday 10th December. You will be transferred from the hotel to the airport in Vientiane (Laos) for your return flight home.
There is an afternoon flight with Vietnamese Airlines or Laos Air advertised from £90 - £115. Alternately you can buy an open jaw ticket, fly into Hanoi and return from Vientiane. If you decide to arrive before the start date or stay on at the end of the tour, we can reserve your accommodation and transfers at cost price. On arrival in Hanoi, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the old quarter. There will be a group meeting with the guide in the evening at the hotel. Accommodation: Hotel.
Day 2: Hanoi. Today you will have time to explore Hanoi's old quarter. The ancient part of the city is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets each named after a trade or guild. Nowadays it is lined with tempting restaurants, guest houses, shops and cafes but the past never seems far away. It is a charming place to either unwind or visit some of its many attractions, the most popular being the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Accommodation: Hotel.
Day 3: Hanoi to Yen Bai. After a leisurely breakfast we transfer the group out of Hanoi and drive part of the way to Yen Bai. We will ride the last 32km to Yen Bai arriving late afternoon. Accommodation: Guest House. Cycling distance: 32 km.
Day 4: Yen Bai to Nghia Lo. Our first full day in the saddle takes us on the back roads to Nghia Lo. A spectacular ride through undulating terrain of tea plantations, lush forests, rice fields and gum trees. The town sits on a mountain ridge overlooking the Red and Black River and is home to the Thai, Nung, H'mong, La Ha and Ma peoples. Accommodation: Hotel. Cycling distance: 74 km.
Day 5: Nghia Lo to Tu Le. Today we will cycle out of Nghia Lo passing large white limestone mountains as we explore the "real Vietnam". Following rolling road, to end the day in Tu Le. Accommodation: Guest House. Cycling distance: 55 km.
Day 6: Tu Le to Than Uyen. Leaving Tu Le we travel through rugged terrain with dense vegetation and come into contact with the Black Hmong and the mysterious White Tay people, who are famed for their folk music, poems and songs. The road winds down out of the hills and we descend into valley to end the day at Than Uyen. Accommodation: Guest House. Cycling distance: 95 km.
Day 7: Than Uyen to Sapa. From Than Uyen we begin with a gentle 20km ascent to ride along the Hoang Lien Son mountain range through magnificent landscape. Then, from Binh Lu Junction there is another hard ascent of 26km to the top of the Tram Ton Pass, on our way to Sa Pa. We stop on route to visit the "silver waterfall", before descending into Sapa for the final 15 km. Accommodation: Hotel. Cycling distance: 95 km.
Day 8: Sapa. A well deserved rest day. Sa Pa is an old French hill station perched at 1,600m in the Hoang Lien Son Mountains near the Chinese border. Its position gives it some of the best vantage points to savour the surrounding mountain peaks. Famous for its breathtaking landscapes, it is also a place to see the great diversity of ethnic minority peoples. Go for a walk in the market and see the colourful display of hill tribe people wearing their intricately embroidered traditional dress. It is no wonder French colonialists saw Sapa as the perfect summer retreat. Accommodation: Hotel.
Day 9: Sapa to Lai Chau (Old Tom Duong). Today is the highlight for many as we cycle up to the Tram Ton Pass (1,900 m/6230 ft) the highest mountain pass in Vietnam. We then make a momentous 30 km descent. The beauty of Mt.Fan Si Pan, South East Asia's highest peak is often hidden by a veil of moving mist and fog; hopefully we will glimpse its lofty peaks. Accommodation: Guest House. Cycling distance: 68 km.
Day 10: Lai Chau (Old Tom Duong) to Muong Say (Old Lai Chau)
We cycle out of Lai Chau today making two big climbs and then follow the Na River passing through spectacular gorges and Black Dao villages. Accommodation: Guest house. Cycling distance: 66 km.
Day 11: Muong Say to Dien Bien Phu. In 1954, the Vietnamese achieved the impossible carrying heavy artillery into the mountains to defeat the French Garrison at Dien Bien Phu. As you ride along this route you will wonder at how this was ever achieved. The surrender at Dien Bien Phu marked the end of French Indochina. It is not widely known that the US had developed a plan to aid the French by using tactical nuclear weapons at Dien Bien Phu. Accommodation: Guest house. Cycling distance: 64 km.
Day 12: Dien Bien Phu to Muang Khua. Today is a longer day's cycling. Leaving Dien Bien Phu behind, we cross into Northeast Laos at Tay Tran. This area of Laos is the least populated part of the country. From here we travel on to Muang Khua on the banks of the Nam Ou river. Accommodation: Guest house. Cycling distance: 103 km.
Day 13: Muang Khua to Pak Mong. This morning the bikes will be transferred to Nong Khaiaw whilst we take a glorious boat trip along the Nam Ou river, enjoying breathtaking scenery as we journey past mountains and caves. From Nong Khaiaw we will ride the final 30kn into Pak Mong. Accommodation: Guest house. Cycling distance: 30 km.
Day 14: Pak Mong to Luang Prabang. Today is the longest and the most rewarding day of cycling, we will be treated to our first glimpse of karst rock formations rising boldly out of the landscape. We will be riding on good, mainly flat roads. After 82km there is an option extra to take a boat into Luang Prabang, stopping to visit the holy caves of Pak Ou. Accommodation: Hotel. Cycling distance: 112 km or 82 km.
Day 15: Luang Prabang. Rest day in beautiful Luang Prabang, encircled by mountains and situated on the banks of the Mekong where it meets the Nam Khan River. You are free today to explore this delightful World Heritage town with 32 historic temples, ancient monasteries, the magnificent Royal Palace Museum and its French Colonial architecture. This is a place to chill out, enjoy the food, the peaceful surroundings and the people. Accommodation: Hotel.
Day 16: Luang Prabang to Ku Kajam. The big one, the ultimate challenge of the trip! After a pleasant and fairly easy 20 km we start on the first of two long climbs (support vehicle on hand). A 16 km climb passing spectacular scenery of limestone peaks, some of which are the highest in South East Asia. Followed by a descent of 15 km, then another monster 22 km climb before reaching our guest house at Kiu Kachan. Accommodation: Guest house. Cycling distance: 81km or 44 km.
Day 17: Ku Kajam to Kasi. A challenging morning covering 50 km on a roller coaster road before we stop and have lunch at Nung Phu Khun. This is followed by a spectacular 38 km descent passing dramatic views of craggy limestone mountains. The scent of jasmine and lotus blossom drifts through the clear air from the rich jungle flora. We end our day coming off the mountains at Kasi. Accommodation: Guest house. Cycling distance: 95 km or 64 km.
Day 18: Kasi to Vang Vieng. Today is an easier day covering 60 km of gentle rolling hills to Vang Vieng. Not long before we reach Vang Vieng there is an option extra (around 15$) to get off the bikes and kayak down the Nam Song river into the town. Vang Vieng has recently become a destination for backpackers and is therefore a comfortable place with nice restaurants and guesthouses. Once we get there we can spoil ourselves with some well deserved fruit milkshakes and pancakes, have a Beer Lao and relax and enjoy watching the sun setting over the river behind the stunning limestone pinnacles. Cycling distance: 60 km.
Day 19: Vang Vieng to Na Nam. After a relatively gentle 24 km we reach the fishing village of Tha Heua where you can see all manner of salted fish being sold by the road. Here you have the option of taking a 3 hour boat journey on the Ang Nam Ngum reservoir to Na Nam a small fishing village, passing many picturesque islands dotted along the way. Alternatively you can cycle the moderate 84 km along the road, climaxing in a steep 2 km climb before reaching our guesthouse at Na Nam. Accommodation: Guest house. Cycling distance: 107 km or 85 km.
Day 20: Na Nam to Vientiane. Our last day of cycling starts with last two short but hard climbs, before the road levels out for the 95 km all the way to Vientiane. Here the land is agricultural passing paddy fields and more intensely farmed areas. As we near the Lao capital of Vientiane the roads, which until now have been relatively traffic free throughout our trip, start to become busier. We arrive at our guesthouse in the afternoon giving us time to pack the bikes and look around. Accommodation: Hotel. Cycling distance: 96 km or 72 km.
Day 21: Vientiane/Home. The tour ends today. This morning you will have time for some last minute shopping or sightseeing before you are transferred to the airport for an afternoon flight to Hanoi.
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